The Blueprint Doesn’t Match Because it isn’t Built

Our son wished us to be gone. While the words felt devastating coming from a 6 year old, it was comforting to learn from other parents that it is much more common than we first thought.

I asked him what he would do with us out of the picture and he sniffled through the tears to tell me that he would take care of himself. Oh, it was because we turned off the TV and he wanted to watch more. No beatings, no yelling, no grounding, we just turned off the TV because it was time to do other things besides watch TV. I know, we are monsters.

I asked how he would take care of himself and he shrugged his shoulders. (fun fact, he can’t use the remotes yet… he doesn’t know how. So you can see how well he thought this out. With us gone, he will have zero TV).

I asked how he would get food and he told me he would just go downstairs and get it from the cupboard. This is where we keep his chips, fruit snacks and crackers. And that was the extent of his plan. Which makes perfect sense… because he is JUST NOW 6 years old.

His master plan of living the good life is watching TV all day and night by getting rid of the only people that know how to operate said TV and he will sustain himself for the rest of his life on gummies and potato chips… enough to last maybe a few days. And because he is 6, we can’t even explain why this is such a bad idea.

His emotions take over and he knows more than anyone else. At first our feelings were hurt. We’ve done nothing but show patience and kindness and love to this child. We went through frustration, concern, a little laughter over the absurdity, and then it hit us.

God has a sense of humor, I think. Because even though we may not use the words, we speak this out in our life actions. We brush God away and claim, “I’ll handle this myself”. Either through distrust or lack of wisdom or lack of patience, or ego… we start trying to call the shots.

When the miracle doesn’t happen fast enough, it can feel like someone just turned off the TV. When the pain persists. When the hunger remains. When the relationship collapses… I’ll fix it. I’ll make my own way. I’ll do my own thing. I’ll make a move now. And how quickly forget that the God we push back, is the one that filled the cupboard for us to begin with. We think we don’t need God because we have all the gifts He has given us at our disposal.

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10 ESV

Another translation reads:

Cease striving and know that I am God

Psalm 46:10 NASB

Cease striving. Trust. Patience. Let God take control. Allow life to fall outside of the tiny box you crafted for it. Get bruises, accept scrapes, shed tears, and be mocked… In other words, line up behind Jesus and walk in his footsteps. But also, and this is key, allow the Father to lead through ANY valley, just as Jesus did. And accept and walk through those lows with eyes fixed on greater things.

Growth doesn’t fashion out of comfort. The things worth our moments aren’t conceived from our 6 year old minds. Our Master has put in us a blueprint full of pain, sorrow, and misunderstanding. But on the other end of that sketch is the love, protection, sustenance and all the saving we will ever need.

Until our fulfillment, we trust and we grow. Growth comes through effort, challenge, and acceptance of God’s gifts. There is a reason the blueprint doesn’t look like the finished product… we have to build it first. Until we finish building, all we have are parts and instructions. Once we finish, we have a God-inspired masterpiece.

When we don’t feel like building, when we think the effort is unfair or the destination looks off… we tend to turn towards ourselves. We grab the remote and pout against all the monsters that stand in our way. What if, instead of blaming the blueprint maker, we ask for His help instead? What if, instead of fleeing from Him, we wander to Him and spend more time with the architect and less time trying to figure it out through our own shallow and short-lived plans?

What if we could slow down and even come to a full stop… and know that TV and crackers aren’t the essence of life. Nor our jobs or accomplishments or hobbies. You know what is the most fun? When the desires of our hearts matches the blueprints within us. And don’t run after that frustration… the one that says the blueprint is wrong! That is what the 6 year old does.

The infant wants a new blueprint. The adult wants to complete the work. Lets grow in Christ. Be Still and know…


Image by Justin Martin from Pixabay

Praying to God with Time and Solitude

I started falling asleep to the tv in high school.  With the right volume and show running in the background, I could finally clear my mind and find rest.  With marriage came improvisation.  Now I sleep with earbuds and find it much more difficult to doze off.  When I do sleep, it’s not restful.

I’ve noticed my new stressful sleep is often linked to whatever I’m listening to. There is something happening psychologically when the sound is shot directly into the ear.  It’s like it’s bypassing layers of filters and getting implemented into my subconscience.  It’s become enough of an issue that I’ve tried to remove them and just fall asleep without any artificial aid.

Now I struggle with the lesser of two evils.  A chance that my favorite shows will help provoke stress induced panic attacks… or face the deafening quiet and my ever-wandering, also wakened mind?

The quiet is loud.  I hear every breath, every squeak and creak of the house.  Some nights I’d swear I could hear the cats blinking.  The heat kicks in. The bed cracks, the house settles, the ice falls in the freezer, it’s like a riotous prison!

Worse is that I have no control of my mind.  It wanders into ludicrous places leaving me captive to further pondering when I should be watching sheep jumping fences with cartoon Z’s over their heads.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Why is this so difficult?  To simply stop.  To stop being a receiver for all the world wants to feed into us?  God wants to speak to us, to feed us Godly things, but how often do we truly give Him the platform to do so?

When I was very young, before the crux of a tv to fend with, I would pray as I lay in bed and would often fall asleep talking to God.  I remember explaining to a Sunday school teacher, when learning about confession, that I was such a horrible person that I couldn’t finish talking to my Savior without falling asleep.  I felt real guilt that I didn’t finish and assumed I really let God down.

I still remember the man’s response.  “Don’t you think it pleases God that He was the last thought on your mind as you fell asleep?  Don’t you think He knows you were trying and actually communicating?  For many husbands and wives, their favorite time of day is to crawl into bed at night and talk until they fall asleep.  If anything, I would say you are doing it right.  The Bible says to pray without ceasing… and going up until the dreams kick in is pretty much following that to the letter.”

But I’ve saturated my senses with decades of noise.  I need noise to block out other noises.  The lack of sound is more audio than I can bear… or so I am deceived into believing.  How devilishly tricky!  Such a simple thing.  But look at the magnitude of what it costs.  Precious moments with the only thing worthy of my time.

The Bible speaks a bit about prayer.  It mentions solitude and private. There is a reason.  Imagine trying to take a written exam on a plane that is crashing… weird and silly, right?  Also impossible.  I think this is close to what we do when we try to fit God in over the tv, radio, tablet, computer, internet, smart phone, and any other manner of distraction we throw into our lives.  It’s simply not possible to do.  Way too many bumps, spirals, swerves… and of course the unfortunate crash at the end.

Communicating with God can happen in quick bursts, in thought, surrounding your entire day.  That shouldn’t change.  But GROWING in God, living IN Him, emblazoning His name on your life… that requires real prayer.  Biblical prayer.  Worn knees.  Teary eyes.  Devoted time.  Sincere and uninterrupted talks with time specifically included for listening.  And here is the part I think we most will cringe at if you allow your self conscience unassisted access to you true and unfiltered habits… frequency.  Is this just something you do around Christmas and Easter?  Is this more of a once a month thing?  Do you think corporate prayer covers this?

No one in history has had more justification to exempt Himself from private prayer time than Jesus.  And let me explain what I mean by that.  He was actively doing His Father’s will.  He was followed by thousands and healing them and saving them.  He was DOING the task at hand (in mid-sacrifice mode). Nothing was more criticle to US than seeing this man.  So it might be excusable for Him to say, ‘do as I say and not as I do… I’m here for you, once I’m gone, you should pray better’.  And yet, with such a massive and important, and time bound mission, He still separated Himself and prayed (Just like He wants us to do).  It wasn’t that we weren’t worth His time… it’s because we were worth His prayers.

So let’s use this as an example of how frequently we should specifically set aside private time to pray and listen to God.  To follow scripture and to put it simply, this should be the most important thing we do in our lives.  And… the closer we want to be to God, the more we need to do this.  It almost sounds like a paradox, but it isn’t.  The more stressed we are, the more we need to pray.  The busier we get, the more time we need to set aside to pray.  The more angry, the more sad, the louder life gets… prayer isn’t meant to be another bullet point on the list… it’s what makes the list doable.

Nothing makes me happier than when people stop what they are doing to pray over something.  I had lunch with an amazing friend the other day and he did this.  He could have asked me to pray later and I would have agreed and maybe even remembered to. But instead, He put God where He belongs.  Front and center. It’s important.  Prayer is important.  And when you see prayer and use prayer as a gift from God, then the scripture to pray without ceasing is no longer a command we follow… it’s who we are.  We belong to Christ and we pray forever!  We don’t fit God into our schedule… we live out God’s schedule.

Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth.

For some, that is a wish.  For others it has fairy tale implications.  Some will immediately associate it with Miss America pageantry.

For Christians… we know that it is a responsibility.  We don’t hope for peace while clinching fists and kicking sand every time we witness despair, pain, or injustice.  We bring peace.  We have seen the hope of Jesus Christ and His gifts to us.  And on an earth that is wounded, we bring the peace.  By our actions, our words, or maybe even our silence when appropriate, we usher in the peace of Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters, don’t let those opportunities get explained away.  Show the peace of Jesus.  Be the peace of Jesus.  Share the peace of Jesus.  While you may not know your role in life, I can tell you one part that is certainly true.  God didn’t intend for you to be a spectator.  Bring peace on earth.  Be the light on the hill.  Be the lamp on the lamp stand.  Pat shoulders.  Listen intently.  Pray.  Love the cranky.  Smile with the disagreeable.  Respect the insane belief systems.

Don your heavenly names and attributes.  God-loved.  Saved.  Christ-example.  Peace-bringer.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. – John 14:27